Employment law changes in 2024 – what HR consultants are expecting to see!

Employment law changes are coming in 2024, each having a specific impact on employers and employees. These changes include increased wage standards, parental and carer rights, and the ever-complex holiday pay calculations – as an employer or HR manager understanding these changes is critical. Our HR consultants discuss the employment law changes coming in 2024 and what implications they may have on businesses. 


The National Living Wage Increase

On Wednesday 22nd November, the UK Government announced changes to the National Living Wage from April 2024.  To break it down easier for you, we have created a comparison table 2023 v 2024. The changes are significant, our CEO Neil McLeese comments “In practical terms, as an example, an employer with 40 employees working a basic 40-hour week will see their basic wage bill increasing by £85k per annum which is the equivalent of starting approximately 4 new full-time employees at the current rate.”

Key points for the National Living Wage increase are the £1.02 more per hour and reducing the age limits from 23 to 21. The increase in National Living Wage amounts to nearly 10% extra with many employees having the potential to be £1800 better off YOY.  This is a significant step for enhancing the earnings of lower-paid workers. 

Comparison table:


April 2023 hourly rates

April 2024 hourly rates


23 and over




21 to 22




18 to 20




Under 18








Pensions (Extension of Automatic Enrolment) Act 2023

The Pension Act is changing significantly with automatic enrolment in workplace pensions age limit being lowered, including people under the age of 22.  The UK Government has also lowered the minimum earnings threshold, meaning employers will need to contribute to workplace pensions for employees under the age of 22.

Previously employers didn’t need to contribute to employees’ pensions until earnings reached £6240 annually. This threshold has been reduced to £1 a year. This employment law change is to enable young workers to start saving for their retirement earlier an to benefit from employer contributions from a younger age.

The implementation date hasn’t been confirmed but our HR consultants expect this to significantly impact retirement savings.  The main aim of this policy is to create higher security levels for retirement. 

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023*

This employment law change grants employees the statutory right to 1-week unpaid leave to care for a dependent. The act was developed to address the needs of UK employees with caring responsibilities and give support to employees trying to balance work and caring duties.

Whilst this law became effective in May 2023, we are awaiting the UK Government to set out further regulations to facilitate the full implementation when entitlements can be activated. The legislation originated as a Private Member’s Bill from Wendy Chamberlain MP and secured Government support followed by receiving Royal Assent in May 2023.

The Act allows employees with expected caring responsibilities 5 days of unpaid leave to balance work and caring responsibilities. It is slated to be fully enacted in 2024, giving employers time to adjust to new requirements.

HR Consultant Deirdre highlights that this will be a day one right for employees giving them access to essential support. Businesses will need to review their existing policies on leave and amend them accordingly. 

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act*

This significant new piece of legislation gives rights to parents with new-born babies needing neonatal care. The legislation allows parents to take 12 weeks of paid leave, on top of their maternity and paternity
leave entitlements. Support to parents during a critical and often difficult time.

This employment law change will target a specific vulnerable group of parents and children, giving them time and financial support during neonatal care. Stuart C McDonald presented the law and received Royal Assent in May 2023. Whilst the act has been passed, it’s not expected to come into force until 2025 giving employers and parents 2024 to prepare the new entitlements.

COO Helen Hardy welcomes this Act and feels its introduction will bring much clearer guidance and clarity for business owners, as previously business owners had to decide for themselves what was fair and reasonable. Business owners will have access to support packages similar to other statutory payments, ensuring companies aren’t losing out with the additional financial costs. Whilst it’s essential to now include this new Act within the company policy and procedures, it is also very important to provide training to the line managers on how to deal with these sensitive situations delicately as they are almost always the first point of contact for the parent/s.  

The employment law change marks a significant advancement in the support for parents within the UK workforce. Including a progressive step for balancing work and family life.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act*

Further developments for parents in the UK include the enhancement of protections from redundancy to employees during and after pregnancy, or following periods of maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave.

The act was backed by Dan Jarvis, Labour MP for Barnsley Central, and Baroness Bertin a Conservative Life peer, highlighting this is a cross-party support for the initiative.  The developments in employment is a further safety net for employees during crucial family-related periods.

Similar to the above two acts, this received Royal Assent in May 2023 with a commencement date of 24th July 2024. Making a clear timeline for both employers and employees for the employment law changes to be implemented.

From July 2024 pregnant employees and those returning from parental leave will be given priority for suitable alternative work within the business during redundancy situations. They are boosting their job security during vulnerable periods. 

Holiday pay calculations

In the case of PSNI v Agnew, the key issue centred around the calculation of holiday pay and how far back claims for underpayment could extend. This stemmed from a European Court of Justice decision in Williams V British Airways Plc, which required holiday pay to include regular allowances, overtime, and commission.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) accepted they had incorrectly paid holiday pay but questioned the extent of retrospective claims. The Supreme Court ruled that liabilities could extend back to 1998, the inception of the Working Time Directive (1998), potentially costing PSNI between £30-40 million for 3,380 police officers and 364 civilian employees.

This ruling has significant implications for other employers, especially those who had been awaiting the outcome to gauge their financial risk. In Great Britain, the Deduction from Wages (Limitation) Regulations 2014 limits claims to two years for cases post-July 2015.

However, for Northern Ireland, retrospective claims may be challenging due to a seven-year limit on financial record retention. Further clarity is expected from Tribunal cases in Northern Ireland, though appeals are likely.

A key aspect of the ruling is that the “three-month gap” rule cannot be used in claims about underpayments. Continuity is not broken by a three-month gap between holidays or by a holiday without overtime in the preceding 12 weeks, as the series of deductions are linked by a “common fault.”

Additionally, the Supreme Court’s stance that workers view holidays as a composite whole, without distinguishing between Working Time Directive leave, UK statutory leave, and contractual leave, complicates matters.

Different rules for carryover and pay for various leave types add to this complexity. Employers who differentiate between leave types may continue to do so, provided it’s clearly stated in contracts or policies.

Government Proposals for GB (Effective 1st January 2024):

  • Maintain two rates of pay for holidays.
  • Allow rolled-up holiday pay for irregular hours/part-year workers.
  • No requirement for employers to record daily working hours as per WTR.
  • Calculate entitlement for irregular hours/part-year workers as 12.07% of hours worked, addressing ambiguities from Harpur Trust v Brazel.

These proposals do not extend to Northern Ireland.

Helen O’Brien our Senior HR Consultant advises employers on what they should do;

  1. Do an audit of holiday pay and how it has been calculated.
  2. Pay correctly going forward from now. Employees still have to claim within 3 months of the last unlawful deduction.  
  3. Any employer wishing to continue to pay differing rates for different types of holiday i.e. normal pay for 4 weeks and basic pay for the rest, should outline this in the contract or in the handbook.

Additional Employment Law Changes for 2024

Alongside these key changes, other reforms and new statutes are also on the horizon, including:

  • Flexible Working Laws: The reforms in flexible working laws will enable more employees to request flexible working arrangements. Check out our blog on flexible working.
  • EU Discrimination Case Law: This will be codified into UK legislation, ensuring continued protection of rights developed under EU law.
  • Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023: This Act prevents businesses from withholding tips from employees, ensuring a fairer distribution of tips in sectors like hospitality.

Implications and Recommendations for the Employment law changes

The employment law changes will have far-reaching implications for employers. Businesses must adapt their policies and practices to comply with the new regulations.

How employers should respond to the changes;

  1. Employee handbook review looking at HR policies to align with the new legislation.
  2. Staff Training to ensure HR teams and managers are well-informed about these changes.
  3. Update payroll and HR systems to incorporate new leave entitlements and pay calculations.
  4. Seek advice from HR consultants to fully understand the implications of these changes.

The employment law changes in 2024 represent a significant change to the UK workforce by proactively adapting to these changes, businesses can ensure compliance and foster a supportive work environment.

As we navigate the employment law changes, staying informed and prepared will be key to successfully adapting to the new legal landscape.

*Important to note that these new employment laws only apply in England, Wales, and Scotland. For Northern Ireland once the assembly is back up and running, they will decide if similar employment law changes will be enforced in NI. 

Career Progression Plan for Business Success

Retaining talented employees is key for many businesses, career progression plans help in this area. The plan ensures the employer and employee are clear on where the employee sees themselves in the next 12 months and 5 years (usually). 

Take points to understand how the business may assist in helping the employee achieve this, alongside aligning with business objectives.

The plan isn’t simply a roadmap for employees to move up the corporate ladder, a career progression plan is a strategic tool for business growth and success.


What is a Career Progression Plan

A career progression plan is a structured roadmap created for employees to use for identifying their career goals and the steps required to achieve these goals. Usually will have a timeframe; 12 months and 5 years is common.

The plan will outline key milestones, training, and opportunities to progress in their career within the company.

Key elements of a career progression plan

    • Career goals
    • Evaluation of current skills, experience, and qualifications
    • Skill gap analysis
    • Action plan for obtaining essential skills and qualifications for future roles
    • Details of specific actions for progression i.e. mentorship.
    • A timeline to achieve each step
    • Resources needed for growth i.e. courses or professional associations
    • Mentorship
    • Metrics for measuring progression
    • Contingency plans

    Why Career Progression Planning is Important

    Asking employees to map out their careers, is the foundation of professional development. In turn, both the employer and employee will see the advantages of doing this exercise. For employees, it gives a sense of direction by outlining a path for professional development. They will be looking at their current role and how they will reach their next career milestone. The plan acts as a motivator to employees for continuous learning and development. In turn, it benefits business performance.

    From a business point of view, career progression planning is equally as essential.  As a strategic tool, career progression plans are used for talent retention – employees are more likely to stay with a company that invests in their future. Investing in employee growth boosts engagement within the workplace, directly impacting business productivity and performance. Furthermore, a career progression plan is fundamental for succession plans within the business.  These plans ensure the business has experienced and qualified individuals ready to take on leadership roles.

    Career progression plans act as a form of risk management. For example, if a senior employee hands in their notice, the business has an employee ready to take on their role. This will minimise the impact on business productivity or performance.

    The advantages of implementing career progression plans

    Implementing career progression plans has multiple benefits for both the employer and employee, these include:

    • Higher employee engagement as employees feel more valued and understood in the workplace.
    • Better retention rates as employees are more likely to stay with a business if they are investing in their professional development and providing growth opportunities.
    • Attracting top talent as employees are more inclined to apply to companies that invest in employee development.
    • Continuous professional development keeps the business ahead of competition.
    • Assists with succession planning strategies.
    • Aligning employee goals to business objectives and strategies for growth
    • Improved job satisfaction and morale, boosting positive workplace culture

    Implementing a career progression plan is a strategic business investment, creating a more motivated and skilled workforce. Also, a greater sense of loyalty to the business and a competitive edge over competitors. The plan will assist in driving business success.

    Example of a career progression plan structure

    The structure of a career progression plan takes the form of a document or roadmap outlining the employee’s ideal career development and aspirations alongside the necessary steps for achieving these goals.

    An example of structure includes;

    • Title and introduction page
      • Employee name, date, and title of document.
      • Outline the intention of the plan and the employees’ overall career objectives
    • Self-assessment summary
      • Details of the employee’s skills, qualifications, strengths, and weaknesses plus any specific interests or values.
      • Including any results from formal assessments or personality tests may be beneficial in this section.
    • Career goals
      • Including both short and long-term career goals, detailing what success looks for each goal.
      • Using the SMART metrics is highly recommended.
    • Analyse current role
      • Evaluating the employee’s current role in the business, looking at their job responsibilities, and achievements and detail any gaps in experience, qualifications, or skills.
    • Outline of desired role
      • A detailed description of the employee’s desired role, outlining the required qualifications, experience and skills for the role.
      • Detailing job titles and responsibilities gives a clearer picture.
    • Skill gap analysis
      • Reviewing the employees current skills and qualifications against the desired role to identify the gaps for training and development.
    • Development objectives
      • Detail particular learning objectives and the competencies involved in decreasing the skill gaps.
      • Reviewing technical skills, leadership abilities, and industry-specific knowledge
    • Action plan
      • Outline the activities and initiatives the employee needs to undertake in a step-by-step action plan to meet development objectives.
    • Resources needed
      • Detail the resources needed to complete the action plan, outlining the courses, books, webinars or professional associations i.e. CIPD.
      • Budget for training and development should be outlined in this section
    • Timeframe
      • Map out the timeframe for when each action will be completed and key milestones
      • A deadline for achieving specific goals and when reviews will happen
    • Success metrics
      • Outline the criteria and metrics for measuring the success of the career progression plan.
      • Metrics may include employee appraisals, achievements with qualifications and feedback from line managers.
    • Review and adjustment process
      • Create a process for regular reviews of the progression plan, adapting the plan to fit with any feedback, industry developments and changes in personal goals
      • The plan shouldn’t be set in stone but adaptable
    • Closing statement
      • Reaffirm both the employees’ and employers’ commitment to the career progression plan and that steps will be taken for success.

    Questions to include in the career progression plan

      1. Detail skills that come naturally to you within the job role
      2. What skills have you wanted to learn?
      3. Describe in one sentence your goal for the next 12 months… (same for 5 years time)
      4. What is stopping you from achieving your desired goals?
      5. What training and development do you believe you need to achieve this goal?
      6. What is your plan to keep yourself accountable to reach your goals?

      Overall, a career progression plan is a strategic tool used for employee growth and business success. Helping businesses hold onto key employees and assist with succession planning. This allows for greater consistency within the business.  These must be specific to the business and employee to see the most benefit from them.

      Stress Management in the Workplace: A Guide for Managers

      Stress in the workplace is inevitable, from tight deadlines or conflict with a colleague over task completion. As a manager, looking for ways to identify when stress levels come too high and how we can help to mitigate the potential impact to create an atmosphere of positivity and productivity.  

      This guide will provide insights into stress management in the workplace, the statistics, signs, and strategies for managing.

      Remember, employers have a legal duty to safeguard their employees from stress levels under health and safety laws.


      Statistics of Stress in the Workplace

      • 1 in 14 adults in the UK feel some level of stress daily.
      • The top cause of stress for employees is their workload (73% of respondents)
      • Over 50% of respondents agreed that a balanced amount of stress helps to motivate them to thrive in the workplace.
      • 33% of respondents indicated that high-stress levels impacted their productivity at work.
      • 76% of respondents reported experiencing moderate-to-high or high levels of stress at work.
      • Only 9% of respondents had no stress at work.
      • It is estimated ½ million employees in the UK feel overwhelmed and unable to cope due to work stress.

      (Statistics sourced from Champion Health)

      Why is Stress management in the workplace important?

      Stress management is fundamentally linked to employees’ productivity. When stress levels are managed employees will make fewer mistakes with higher focus abilities and working more efficiently. Alternatively, employees will see productivity decrease in a highly stressful environment, causing lower focus and more mistakes.

      By encouraging stress management in the workplace, managers can prevent low productivity and create a working environment that is supportive and positive. Stress puts strains on working relationships between colleagues as well as between managers and employees. Stress creates miscommunication, conflict, and reduces collaboration in teams.

      Being proactive with stress management in the workplace may help in creating better working relationships at work, making it a more cooperative and collaborative space for employees. By not being proactive, companies may see an increase in employee turnover.

      This will harm the business’s reputation and its ability to attract talented employees. Companies with poor reputations typically have to pay 10% higher salaries. Prioritising employee well-being will work in the business’s favour, having a positive outlook for potential candidates.

      Under health and safety regulations employers have a legal obligation to manage stress levels. Being proactive with stress management in the workplace will assist with health and safety compliance. Minimising the risks of legal issues.

      If you haven’t realised already, poor stress management in the workplace – is costly! Increased employee absenteeism and a higher turnover means more recruitment campaigns and wasted business hours from poor productivity.

      Signs of stress in the workplace

      • Employees are struggling to meet deadlines or output has reduced.
      • High absenteeism, a sign stress is impacting employee’s well-being.
      • Mood swings, irritability, or short tempers from employees
      • Lack of communication or miscommunication
      • Employee complaints or grievances have increased.
      • Employees handing in notice without another job to go to
      • If employees are constantly tired or lacking in energy
      • Physical ailments such as headaches or backaches may be a sign of high stress.
      • Poor concentration and inability to make decisions.
      • Tension and conflict between employees
      • An increase in errors or accidents may be a result of high stress impacting focus and efficiency.

      5 strategies for stress management in the workplace

      Encouraging a healthy work-life balance

      Managers should be encouraging employees to have a work-life balance. If possible, offer employees flexibility in their roles, from flexible working hours to hybrid working modules.  Have you noticed employees working before or past normal business hours? Conversations should be had to understand the employee’s workload, ensuring it is manageable.

      No barriers to communication

       Do employees feel comfortable to communicate if they are under pressure? How do managers deal with this? Is it dismissed or is action taken? Creating an environment where employees can discuss any concerns or challenges, they are facing, is invaluable. As a manager having regular one-to-one meetings is key to addressing any possible issues.

      Providing growth opportunities

      If there is a lack of growth opportunities, or if an employee feels stagnant in their roles it can add stress to them. Furthermore, if an employee doesn’t have the correct knowledge to complete tasks this can be very stressful and cause reduced productivity.

      Encouraging regular breaks

      Are employees frequently working through lunchtime or not moving away from their desks all day? Encourage employees to take breaks from their desks. Is there a space where employees can go to get away from their desks and encouraging employees to get out for a quick walk to stretch their legs is good for a person’s mental health.

      Stress management resources

      Providing easy access to stress management resources helps reduce stress levels, whether this is mindfulness meditation sessions, workshops, or if is a stressful role access to counselling. Giving employees the tools to cope with situations shows the business is supporting their employees. EAP programs are also a great measure.

      Stress management activities for employees

      • Mindfulness and meditation sessions
      • Fitness facilities on-site or a great employee benefit is subsidised gym membership.
      • Hosting workshops and seminars on stress management
      • Team-building activities help employees relax and create better friendships.
      • Quiet rooms where employees can take breaks, relax or meditate
      • Employee assistance programs (EAP) giving employees access to counselling services
      • Flexible working arrangements

      It’s never one size fits all, figure out what works best for your business and employees to see the benefits. HR consultants can provide advice on managing stress in the workplace.

      How should managers handle stress management in the workplace?

      Managers play a key role in managing stress in the workplace, they should be leading by example. Whilst in a management role you will expect some level of stress, this should be manageable and not overwhelm you. As a manager you should demonstrate healthy work habits from work-life balance, taking breaks, and managing stress constructively.  

      Expectations and feedback should be provided to employees, this includes expectations, goals, and objectives. This will prevent any misunderstandings and unnecessary stress. Constructive feedback can help employees know where they are performing well or areas of improvement.

      Hard work and achievements should be recognised in the workplace, this can boost morale and reduce stress. Verbal appreciation, awards or other incentives are a great method of employee recognition.

      Managers may find it beneficial to seek constructive feedback from employees, helping them to understand where they need more support in and any incentives they believe will reduce stress. This strategy will assist in creating a more collaborative team.

      FAQs for Stress management in the workplace

      1. Identify Stressors: Knowing what triggers stress is crucial for managing it. Managers can encourage employees to identify stressors through mindfulness practices like keeping a journal​.
      2. Promote Collaboration: Creating a collaborative culture can significantly alleviate workplace stress​​.
      3. Realistic Workloads and Deadlines: Managers should strive for realistic deadlines and workloads, ensuring that employees have the necessary tools and methods to efficiently execute tasks​​.
      4. Work-Life Balance: Encouraging work-life balance, recognizing good work, and avoiding after-hours communications are vital steps towards reducing stress​4​.
      5. Regular Breaks: Managers should ensure that employees take regular breaks to prevent burnout​.

      Managing stress in the workplace is crucial for both the well-being of employees and the overall productivity of the business. When stress is properly managed, employees are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and satisfied with their work, which in turn can lead to higher retention rates and better team dynamics.

      Furthermore, a low-stress environment fosters creativity, problem-solving, and effective decision-making. On the other hand, unmanaged stress can lead to burnout, absenteeism, health issues, and a toxic work environment, which ultimately can harm the company’s reputation and bottom line.

      By actively managing stress, managers contribute to building a positive, healthy, and high-performing workplace.

      Appropriate stress management involves recognising and addressing stressors healthily and constructively, both on an individual and business level. It encompasses a variety of practices such as maintaining a balanced lifestyle, practicing mindfulness, and ensuring a supportive work environment. It’s about creating resilience, promoting clear communication, and providing resources to cope with stress.

      Additionally, appropriate stress management includes creating a work culture that values work-life balance and offering flexibility and understanding in the face of personal or work-related challenges. Through such proactive and supportive approaches, individuals and businesses can mitigate the negative effects of stress, thereby enhancing overall well-being and productivity.

      1. Excessive workload
      2. Lack of control
      3. Job security concerns
      4. Workplace relationships
      5. Work-life balance
      6. Unclear expectations
      7. Change management
      8. Insufficient support
      9. Feeling underpaid or underappreciated
      10. Lack of challenge or variety in work can lead to boredom and frustration

      Excessive stress can manifest through a variety of symptoms spanning the emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioural domains:

      • Emotional Symptoms:
        1. Irritability or anger
        2. Anxiety or nervousness
        3. Depression or sadness
        4. Feeling overwhelmed
        5. Lack of motivation or focus
      • Physical Symptoms:
        1. Headaches or migraines
        2. Muscle tension or pain
        3. Fatigue
        4. Sleep disturbances
        5. Digestive issues
      • Cognitive Symptoms:
        1. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
        2. Memory problems
        3. Negative thinking
        4. Constant worry
      • Behavioural Symptoms:
        1. Procrastination or neglecting responsibilities
        2. Changes in appetite—either not eating or eating too much
        3. Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
        4. Nervous behaviours like nail-biting or pacing
      1. Severe Anxiety or Panic Attacks: Experiencing intense anxiety or panic attacks, which may include rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, or a feeling of impending doom, can be an alarming sign of unmanaged stress.
      2. Chronic Insomnia or Other Sleep Disorders: Persistent trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restorative sleep due to racing thoughts or anxiety can be indicative of excessive stress.
      3. Depression or Persistent Sadness: Prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities can also be alarming signs of stress, and may require professional intervention to address underlying issues.

      Supporting Neurodiversity in the Workplace

      Neurodiversity describes the diversity of individuals; however, it is used in reference to those with Autism (ASD), ADHD, and/or learning disabilities. The term neurodiversity was first used by Judy Singer (a Sociologist) to promote inclusivity and equality of “neurological minorities”.


      What is Neurodiversity in the workplace?

      Harvard Health defines neurodiversity as the idea that everyone interacts and experiences the world and their environment differently highlighting there is no single “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving. Viewing things differently shouldn’t be seen as a negative or deficit.

      Neurodiversity describes the diversity of individuals; however, it is used in reference to those with Autism (ASD), ADHD, and/or learning disabilities. The term neurodiversity was first used by Judy Singer (a Sociologist) to promote inclusivity and equality of “neurological minorities”.

      Since the 1990’s we have seen more and more research into neurodiversity, creating better support mechanisms and understanding across the world. Helping to better support neurodiversity in the workplace.

      In recent years, it has also been known as hidden disabilities in the workplace. As we break the stigma, we should be striving to encourage employees to disclose if they have been diagnosed with a neurodiverse disability ensuring they aren’t hidden but supported.

      Examples of neurodiversity in the workplace

      There are various types of neurodiverse employees, all with their own unique way of thinking and working. These differences include:


          • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – commonly known as ADHD, employees who are ADHD may have difficulty with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. 

          • Autistic Spectrum Disorder – known as ASD and a developmental disorder, individuals may struggle with social interactions and communication, and their behaviour can be restricted and repetitive.

          • Dyscalculia – a person will find it difficult to understand and manipulate numbers and mathematical facts.

          • Dyslexia – this is a learning disorder impacting the brain’s ability to process language, someone who is dyslexic may struggle with reading, writing, spelling, and speaking.

          • Dyspraxia – Development Coordination disorder This affects the person’s ability to plan and execute coordinate movements that are complex.#

          • ObsessiveCompulsive disorder (OCD) – characterised by unreasonable thoughts and obsessions/fears causing compulsive behaviours.

          • Tourette Syndrome – this is a neurological disorder characterised by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalisations known as tics.

        Others include intellectual disabilities, communication orders, social communication disorder (SCD), non-verbal learning disability (NVLD), sensory processing disorder, bipolar disorder, and epilepsy.

        Neurodiversity in the workplace statistics

        It is estimated that 15-20% of the UK population is neurodivergent. The awareness of neurodiversity has increased leading to employers realising the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace.

        LinkedIn has even added to their skill set “dyslexia thinking” highlighting the movement and benefit of embracing a diverse workplace. It is estimated that 10% of the UK population is dyslexic, according to data published by the British Dyslexia Association. As awareness grows more people are finding out earlier, helping them to develop skills for utilising dyslexia in a positive manner.

        The Office for National Statistics published data in 2021 illustrating that within the UK 29% of autistic adults were in employment.

        Unfortunately, 65% of neurodivergent employees opt not to disclose they are neurodiverse. This is due to fear of discrimination from employers or others within the workplace. Data published in March 2023 by Birkbeck’s Research Centre for Neurodiversity at Work. Positives from Birkbeck’s research showed neurodivergent employees have remarkable capabilities and work strengths including 80% being able to hyperfocus, 78% creative, 75% innovative, 71% detail processing and 64% being authentic at work. The research team assessed 1117 individuals including 127 employers and 990 neurodivergent employees. 

        What are the challenges of neurodiverse people in the workplace?

        Stigma and discrimination within the workplace pose a great challenge for neurodiverse employees, some colleagues may have negative attitudes towards employees who are neurodivergent. This can have a lasting impact on self-esteem and how they thrive within their careers.  

        The lack of awareness and understanding in the workplace is a significant challenge, not all employers and managers have the knowledge to proactively support neurodivergent employees. Leaving employees unable to complete tasks and manage workloads. Data published by the National Autistic Society stated that 45% of neurodivergent employees have lost or resigned from their roles due to the challenges of being misunderstood within the workplace.

        Neurodiverse employees may find it difficult to socialise within the workplace, leading to them feeling isolated. Employees may see their motivation decrease due to isolation and the lack of working relationships with colleagues. Furthermore, miscommunication can be a struggle especially when it comes to implicit communication and sarcasm causing misunderstandings with colleagues potentially leading to conflict.

        Conflict within the workplace may lead to a toxic workplace culture, impacting the business’s reputation, and may struggle to hire talented employees.

        Lack of appropriate infrastructure, this includes alternative methods for communication, verbal communication may be difficult for neurodiverse employees to digest, alternatively written communication may be the same. Treating it on a case-by-case basis is essential. Speaking to employees to understand their needs is vital in this situation as understanding how the disability impacts their ability to complete tasks.

        For autistic employees having the option to have quiet areas may be appropriate infrastructure, for ADHD employees allowing noise-cancelling headphones for concentration may be extremely helpful.

        The benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace.

        JPMorgan Chase carried out an Autism at Work initiative which highlighted that neurodiverse employees within the workplace had on average 90-140% higher productivity levels than other employees employed by the business for 5 to 10 years.

        Businesses usually see greater retention of neurodiverse employees, as they tend to be more loyal to a business that supports them and their requirements. Leading to reduced turnover rates. Neurodiverse have a unique skill set including strong attention to detail, problem-solving ability, and analytical thinking.

        Neurodiverse employees tend to be highly creative and innovative, especially when it comes to problem-solving.  Their brain works differently than other employees, helping to bring a fresh and different approach to many situations. Usually seeking a collaborative and inclusive work/team culture.

        Having a strong stance on being an inclusive workforce for neurodiverse employees, helps with the outlook of the business. Potential candidates will see the employers as socially responsible and inclusive, helping to attract talented and unique employees.

        How can I help support neurodiversity in the workplace?

        If you want to help your neurodiverse employee reach their full potential, there is a variety of steps you can take to create a supportive workplace for neurodiversity.


            • Training employees – to raise awareness of neurodiversity, people need training on the importance of neurodiversity and being understanding of employees working in a different way. By increasing awareness and reducing the stigma, employees are more likely to disclose their neurodiversity.  

            • Accessible recruitment – consider if your recruitment practices are inclusive and assess the individual’s skills rather than conventional interview techniques. This type of interview may not accurately represent a neurodivergent talent and capabilities.

            • Accommodations – look at the possibility of being flexible with working hours and environment i.e. remote working. Can you make physical adjustments to the workspace such as quiet spaces or providing noise cancelling headphones?

            • Policy development – develop a policy that is inclusive of neurodiversity taking into consideration the various needs of neurodiverse employees. Work with an HR consultant to create a policy – this may be a stand-alone policy or incorporated within your equal opportunity policy.

            • Provide resources – ensure resources are readily available for employees, especially those who are neurodivergent for support. It may be advantageous to connect with support networks or groups that specialise in neurodiversity in the workplace.

            • Actively promote inclusivity – celebrate diversity in the workplace, start by using inclusive language within all documentation i.e. employee handbook, and be consistent throughout all communications.

            • Understand preferred communication – check in with the employee and understand their preferred communication style. Dyslexic employees may struggle with taking notes during meetings; written communication after meetings with action points may be advantageous to ensure tasks are completed.

          Is neurodiversity increasing?

          We have seen an increase in diagnoses of neurodiversity across the world, this comes from more accurate and inclusive diagnostic criteria from further research and understanding of neurodiversity. Approximately 13 million people in the UK are neurodivergent; 2 million are dyslexic and 700,000 people have autism spectrum condition.

          Autism diagnoses have increased by 787% in the last two decades and ADHD medication has jumped by 800%.

          Neurodiversity in the Workplace Training

          There is a variety of training to improve your understanding of the various neurodiversity; the HSQE has an online training course on Autism awareness. Have 10 employees complete the course and it’s £100, £10 per employee, and a step closer to being a more inclusive workforce.

           Genius Within has CPD-accredited training courses for raising awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace. They are designed to be an introduction to neurodiversity and to recognise the different neurotypes. The training is carried out by professional workplace coaches and psychologists.

          Can I ask an employee if they are neurodivergent?

          Following the Equality Act 2010 in the UK, employers must be extremely cautious when asking employees questions about health and disabilities, including neurodiversity. If you are considering asking an employee directly if they are neurodivergent, this may be discriminatory and invasive.

          We would recommend not asking an employee outright if they are neurodiverse. There are other ways of trying to understand if an employee is neurodivergent. This includes creating an environment where the employee feels safe to disclose, they are neurodiverse voluntarily.

          Case Law
          AECOM v Mallon 2023

          Mr Mallon is dyspraxia, and when applying for a job role at AECOM struggled with the online application in particular with the personal profile registration requirements. This led to Mallon requesting a telephone application due to his dyspraxia, however, did not specify the specific part he was struggling to complete.

          AECOM did offer support, however not his requested telephone application. Mallon did not make any further communication with the company and his application was unsuccessful.

          Following his unsuccessful application, Mallon put forward a claim against AECOM stating they had failed to make reasonable adjustments when declining his telephone application request. It should be noted that Mallon had 3 other failed claims of disability discrimination.

          The claim went to the tribunal, where Mallon’s claim was upheld as AECOM’s decision to not take reasonable inquiries was discriminatory to Mallon and others with dyspraxia.  AECOM appealed this decision to the EAT.  

          EAT found that AECOM should have made reasonable inquiries into Mallon’s dyspraxia including allowing a telephone application; the lack of responsiveness seemed linked to Mallon’s difficulty with written communication. If AECOM had made reasonable inquiries, they would have been aware of the severity of Mallon’s dyspraxia however, they failed to phone him to make these inquiries.

          Rackham v Judicial Appointments Commission

          Jonathan Rackham, a candidate for the bench, lost an employment tribunal claim against the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) concerning reasonable adjustments due to his neurodiversity. Rackham was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger’s syndrome.

          The JAC acknowledged that their online application forms and multiple-choice situational qualifying tests might disadvantage Rackham compared to non-disabled candidates. However, they argued that the measures taken were proportionate and aimed at a legitimate objective, which the tribunal agreed with.

          Rackham suggested adjustments including making the application form question more straightforward and simpler. Requesting setting up a mock scenario to assess his responses using qualifying test scenarios.

          The tribunal found these suggestions unrealistic and not reasonable, stating that the selection process’s purpose is to test candidates’ abilities and should not be adjusted to an extent that undermines the process itself. They felt it would have gave him an unfair advantage compared to other candidates.

          The JAC’s measures, even though they might put Rackham at a disadvantage, were deemed proportionate and aimed at a legitimate goal. The complexity of the questions on the application form was considered no more complex than the legal questions a tribunal would have to answer at a hearing. The tribunal found that reasonable adjustments were provided to Rackham, such as submitting the application form offline and receiving assistance to complete it. Some adjustments he requested were deemed “simply not realistic.” Furthermore, Rackham’s suggestion of setting up live mock scenarios was considered “far too onerous” on the commission and was not deemed reasonable or realistic.

          Key Takeaways


              • Develop a strong understanding of neurodiversity and the various types, helping to create a more inclusive working environment. Since 1990 research has brought further understanding of the diagnoses and how we can support them. Having a strong understanding leads to an inclusive and positive working environment.

              • Neurodiverse employees face many challenges including stigma, discrimination, and inadequate support within the workplace. This may have a negative impact on their career development and social interactions. Take steps to remove these barriers in your workplace.

              • 15-20% of the UK population are said to be neurodivergent making it more crucial for employers to have measures in place to support employees. Remember under the Equality Act 2010, employers can not outright ask employees about their health or disabilities.



              Reasonable Adjustments for Mental Health in the Workplace

              Reasonable Adjustments for Mental Health in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers

              Mental health is a significant concern in the workplace, affecting a considerable portion of employees within the UK. With the rising cost of living crisis, approximately 48% of individuals have experienced negative impacts on their mental health, increasing to 73% for those with existing mental health issues.

              Employers have both moral and legal obligations to support employees suffering from mental health conditions. Including understanding reasonable adjustments for mental health in the workplace.

              Understanding Reasonable Adjustments in the Workplace

              Reasonable Adjustments for Mental Health refers to the changes employers make to eliminate or reduce disadvantages related to employees’ disabilities, including mental health conditions. These adjustments are essential for supporting employees who might find it challenging to discuss or even conceal their mental health conditions, especially under pressure.

              Remember, employers have a legal obligation to manage stress levels in the workplace.  Check out our resource on managing stress in the workplace.

              According to the Equality Act of 2010, employers are legally obligated to implement reasonable adjustments for mental health to accommodate:

              • Employees
              • Contractors and self-employed individuals engaged for personal work execution
              • Job applicants

              The obligation for employers to implement reasonable adjustments for mental health is applicable under the following circumstances:

              • When employers are aware, or are reasonably expected to be aware, that an individual is disabled.
              • When a disabled employee or job candidate requests adjustments
              • When a disabled individual encounters challenges in performing any job component
              • When an individual’s record of absence, sickness, or delayed return to work is associated with, or attributable to, their disability

              Reviewing and implementing Mental Health Policies

              Employers should review existing absence and reasonable adjustment policies to ensure they accommodate employees with mental health problems effectively. Policies should be clear, accessible, flexible, and implemented consistently.

              Policies should allow for a personalised approach to different employees, considering the dynamic nature of mental health conditions. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Employers should also provide training and support for both managers and employees ensuring a consistent approach is implemented.

              Do you have a mental health-specific policy in employee handbooks? Download your free mental health policy template.

              Examples of Reasonable Adjustments for Mental Health

              • Changing roles and responsibilities may include reducing or removing stressful aspects of a job, like customer-facing work. Could you consider alternative work?
              • Reviewing working relationships and having an agreement on preferred communication methods to reduce anxiety and stress.
              • Changing the working environment may involve facilitating work-from-home options, providing reserved parking, or making other physical adjustments to reduce stress and support mental health management.
              • Policy changes/flexibility for employees suffering from mental health by being flexible with absence trigger points and providing additional support like training or coaching. Have a good understanding of the company’s sickness absence management procedure.

              Implementing reasonable adjustments for mental health in the workplace is not solely the responsibility of HR. It requires collaboration between employers and employees to meet everyone’s needs.

              Employers should equip managers with the necessary tools to support their staff and recognise signs of mental health struggles. Regular reviews and adjustments to policies and support mechanisms are crucial to creating an inclusive and supportive work environment.

              Other Reasonable Adjustments for Mental Health to consider;

              Flexible Working Hours:

              Allowing employees to start and finish work at different times to accommodate therapy or counselling appointments, or to avoid rush hour if commuting causes stress.

              Part-Time Working: Offering reduced hours or part-time working schedules for employees who struggle to manage full-time hours due to their mental health.

              Job Sharing: Enabling two employees to share the responsibilities and duties of one full-time position, which may provide each individual with more flexibility. This may reduce stress levels involved with the role.

              Phased Return to Work: After a period of absence due to mental health, employees might benefit from a gradual return to their regular working hours and responsibilities.

              Quiet Spaces: Providing quiet, private spaces where employees can take breaks and have time away from their desks can be crucial for those who need to manage stress and anxiety during the workday.

              Mental Health First Aid: Training selected staff members to identify and understand the symptoms of mental health conditions which can foster a supportive environment.

              Access to Counselling Services: Offering complimentary or subsidised counselling services provides employees with professional support for managing their mental health.

              Mindfulness and Well-being Programs: Implementing programmes that promote relaxation, stress reduction, and mental well-being can be beneficial for all employees.

              Technology Adjustments: Providing software or tools that assist in reducing stress or making the workload more manageable, like project management tools or mindfulness apps.

              Clear Anti-Stigma Policy: Developing and enforcing policies that prevent discrimination and stigma related to mental health fosters an inclusive workplace culture.

              Temporary Adjustments

              Short-Term Needs:

              Temporary adjustments are often made to accommodate employees dealing with short-term or episodic mental health challenges. These might include stress, anxiety, or depression due to specific life events or circumstances.

              Recovery Period:

              After a mental health-related absence, temporary adjustments can support an employee’s phased return to work, helping them gradually reintegrate into their regular duties and hours.

              Trial Period:

              Employers might implement temporary adjustments as a trial to assess their effectiveness before deciding whether to make them permanent.

              Examples of Temporary Adjustments:

              • Flexible working hours or part-time schedules for a set period.
              • Short-term provision of additional support or resources.
              • Temporary reassignment or redistribution of specific tasks or responsibilities.

              Permanent Adjustments

              Long-Term Conditions: For employees with chronic or long-term mental health conditions, permanent adjustments may be necessary to support their ongoing well-being and ability to work effectively.

              Stable Support: Permanent adjustments provide consistency and stability, helping employees manage their mental health confidently and effectively over time.

              Legal Compliance: Employers may be legally required to make permanent adjustments for employees with long-term or recurring mental health conditions classified as disabilities.

              Examples of Permanent Adjustments:

              • Permanent change in working hours or work location (e.g., remote working).
              • Long-term modification of job role or responsibilities.
              • Ongoing access to support services, like counselling or occupational health.

              Whether temporary or permanent, reasonable adjustments should be tailored to meet the individual needs of each employee. Employers should communicate with employees to understand their requirements, review the effectiveness of adjustments, and make necessary changes over time.

              The goal is to create an inclusive and supportive work environment where all employees, regardless of their mental health status, can thrive and succeed.

              How are adjustments communicated to employees?

              Communicating reasonable adjustments to employees should be done with sensitivity, confidentiality, and clarity. Here’s a general guideline on how adjustments can be communicated:

              1. Private Discussion:

              Communication should start with a private and confidential conversation between the employee and their manager or HR representative. Ensure the discussion takes place in a comfortable and private setting where the employee feels safe to express their needs and concerns.

              2. Active Listening:

              Actively listen to the employee’s needs and concerns without making judgments. Creating a better understanding of the situation. Managers should encourage the employee to share their thoughts on what adjustments might be helpful for them.

              3. Collaborative Planning:

              Collaboratively explore and discuss potential reasonable adjustments, allowing the employee to put forward their ideas. Provide feedback on the employee’s suggestions and offer additional recommendations if necessary, depending on if the business can accommodate the adjustment.

              4. Documentation:

              Once adjustments are agreed upon, document them in a written agreement. The document should clearly outline the adjustments, expectations, and any review dates.

              5. Confidentiality:

              Maintain the confidentiality of the employee’s health information and the details of the adjustments. Sharing of an employee’s health information may be outlined as a breach of GDPR and sharing information must only be with those who need to know how to implement the adjustments.

              6. Implementation:

              Inform relevant team members or departments about the adjustments without disclosing sensitive health information. Offer support and resources to help the employee and their colleagues understand and adapt to the adjustments.

              7. Review and Feedback:

              Schedule regular check-ins with the employee to discuss the effectiveness of the adjustments and address any issues. Encourage the employee and their manager to provide feedback on the adjustments and suggest any modifications if needed.

              8. Training and Awareness:

              Conduct training and awareness programs for staff to understand the importance of reasonable adjustments and how to support colleagues. Create an inclusive and supportive workplace culture where employees feel comfortable discussing and requesting adjustments.

              Effective communication is crucial in successfully implementing reasonable adjustments for mental health in the workplace. It requires a careful, respectful, and collaborative approach to ensure that the employee feels supported and understood and that the adjustments meet their needs while maintaining their dignity and privacy.

              Employer’s duty of care for Reasonable Adjustments for Mental Health in the Workplace is inclusive, involving legal compliance, proactive support, confidentiality, and the creation of an inclusive and supportive work environment.

              Employers should approach this responsibility with empathy, understanding, and a commitment to supporting the mental health and well-being of all employees.

              Sickness Absence Management: A Guide for Managers

              Sickness absence management stands out as a concern for many businesses. 1 in 4 employers based in Scotland have seen an increase in employees being off sick compared to last year. Frequent absences may have significant impacts on team morale and productivity. Other employees will be put under further pressure to cover the absent employee workload.

              How should your business be responding to absent employees and how to structure sickness absence management within your business? Having a support system that is unbiased and follows the correct procedures in line with employment laws.

              Understanding Sickness Absence Management

              At its foundation sickness absence management can merely be a task of counting the days the employee takes off. However, there needs to be a deeper understanding of why employees are absent from work.

              The aim of sickness absence management is to provide essential support to affected employees and align solutions with company morale and objectives.

              Steps to Effective Sickness Absence Management

              Implement a Clear Attendance Policy

              All companies should have an attendance policy within their employee handbook.

              The attendance policy must outline the expectations of employees in relation to absences and the potential consequences with frequent absences. This may also be known as the absence and timekeeping policy, communicating this to employees is critical to ensure it is adhered to. How the policy is enforced across the board must have consistency throughout, ensuring to have fairness and transparency in procedures.

              Check out how to write a time and absence keeping policy.

              Review Attendance Records

              Managers should start by reviewing attendance records prior to holding any discussions or interviews with employees. This ensures they have a clear picture of the employee’s history of absenteeism. Having accurate records of absences is critical in this step, the records will provide insights and serve as evidence during the meetings.

              The Role of Return-to-Work Interviews

              Conducting a return-to-work interview is a simple and valuable tool to reducing absenteeism. The interview helps employers and managers to gain insights to why the employee has been absent from work. Employers/Managers have the opportunity to discuss if additional support or reasonable adjustments are required for the employee moving forward.

              Having a return to work interview as part of your sickness absence management process, helps to reduce absenteeism as employees are less likely to pull a sickie.

              Seek Expertise from HR consultants

              Have you identified a pattern in the employee’s absence? Disciplinary action may be required. Consulting with an HR consultant prior to taking action ensures any actions the company takes are following the correct procedures in line with employment laws.

              HR consultants will provide guidance and further insight into the situation, giving you the risks associated with any decisions. They will advise on if they feel you are being harsh or if any investigations are required.

              Training employees:

              Knowledge is key; organizing training sessions can bring awareness to the importance of good attendance at work. The training can be an eye-opener for all employees.

              It should bring an understanding of the broader implications of employees’ repeated absences, such as increased pressure and lower morale for co-workers. If employees understand the full impact of their absence.

               Flexibility as a Solution:

              Flexibility within a company can be a game-changer in reducing absenteeism. If an employee has more control over their work schedule, fitting work in around their lifestyle may lead to reducing absenteeism. Flexibility in where and when they work can be helpful, if someone has a medical condition, they can schedule appointments more easily.

              Short-term sickness absence

              Short-term absences whilst brief may still have cumulative impacts on a company’s productivity and morale; especially within a stressful environment. Taking a proactive approach helps in addressing the issues and reducing them.

              Following the company’s absence policy is the first step for all absences, the policy will outline the reporting and documentation procedures for short-term sickness absence.

              You may feel brief absences don’t require a return-to-work interview, they may be instrumental in highlighting any recurring issues or patterns in absences i.e. Mondays off on multiple occasions.

              It is important throughout the interview there is open communication, helping employers to get to the root causes of short-term absence and whether there is any support they can offer.

              Additionally, fostering a positive workplace culture that emphasises employee well-being can deter unwarranted short-term absences. By implementing these strategies, businesses can ensure a harmonious balance between supporting employee health and maintaining operational efficiency.

              Managing long-term sickness absence

              Addressing long-term sickness absence in the workplace is both a delicate and crucial aspect of sickness absence management.

              Employers must strike a balance between demonstrating genuine concern for the well-being of the affected employee and ensuring the smooth operation of the business. To manage this effectively, companies must have a clear and compassionate absence policy already in place. Remember, communicating this policy to new employees is essential for it to have an impact.

              This policy should outline the process for reporting extended absences, the documentation required, and the support mechanisms available.  Regular communication with the absent employee is key, not only to understand their medical status but also to convey the company’s support.

              Additionally, considering flexible work arrangements or phased returns can be beneficial. By integrating these practices, businesses can foster a supportive environment that prioritises employee well-being while maintaining productivity.

              What should be included in a sickness absence policy?

              A sickness policy statement is a concise declaration that outlines a company’s stance and approach towards sickness and absence due to illness. It serves as an introduction to the more detailed sickness absence policy, providing a clear overview of the company’s commitment to managing and supporting employees during periods of illness.

              A sickness policy statement example;

              At [Company Name], we recognise the importance of the health and well-being of all our employees. We understand that there will be times when employees are unable to attend work due to illness. Our sickness policy aims to support employees during such times, ensuring they receive the necessary care and assistance while maintaining the operational efficiency of the company.

              We are committed to providing a fair and consistent approach to sickness absence, ensuring that all employees are treated with dignity and respect.

              This policy outlines the procedures for reporting sickness, the support available to employees, and the steps we take to facilitate a smooth return to work. We encourage open communication and urge employees to familiarise themselves with the details of our sickness absence policy.

              This statement sets the tone for the company’s approach to sickness absence and provides a foundation for the more detailed procedures and guidelines that follow in the full policy.

              A sickness absence policy provides a clear framework for both employees and employers on how to handle sickness-related absences.

              Example of Sickness Absence Policy

              Purpose and Scope:

              A brief introduction explaining the reason for the policy and to whom it applies.


              Clear definitions of terms used within the policy, such as “short-term absence,” “long-term absence,” “unauthorized absence,” etc.

              Reporting Procedures:

              Detailed steps on how an employee should report sickness absence, including whom to notify, when, and how.

              Information on any documentation required, such as self-certification forms or medical certificates.

              Return-to-Work Interviews:

              Explanation of the process and purpose of return-to-work interviews after an absence.

              Payment During Absence:

              Information on statutory sick pay (SSP) or any company-specific sick pay, including eligibility criteria and duration.

              Support and Adjustments:

              Details on the support available to employees, such as occupational health assessments, counselling services, or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).

              Information on potential workplace adjustments or accommodations for those returning from sickness absence.

              Managing Frequent or Long-Term Absences:

              Procedures for addressing frequent short-term absences or extended long-term absences, including potential medical assessments or reviews.

              Information on phased returns, flexible working arrangements, or potential redeployment.


              Assurance that all medical information and absence records will be kept confidential and only shared with relevant parties on a need-to-know basis.

              Disciplinary Procedures:

              Explanation of circumstances under which sickness absence may lead to disciplinary action, ensuring it’s handled fairly and consistently.

              Details on the process and potential outcomes of such actions.

              Appeals Process:

              Information on how employees can appeal decisions related to their sickness absence, including the steps involved and timeframes.

              Roles and Responsibilities:

              Outline the responsibilities of employees, line managers, HR, and any other relevant parties in the sickness absence process.

              Monitoring and Review:

              Statement on how the organization will monitor sickness absence rates and the effectiveness of the policy.

              Information on how and when the policy will be reviewed and updated.

              Training and Awareness:

              Details on training provided to managers and staff regarding the policy and its implementation.

              Legal and Regulatory Compliance:

              Mention of any legal or regulatory guidelines that the policy adheres to, ensuring compliance with employment laws.

              A well-structured sickness absence policy not only ensures consistency and fairness in managing absences but also provides employees with a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities.

              How many sickness days is acceptable.

              In the UK, there isn’t a fixed “acceptable” number of sickness days. However, the average number of sickness absence days taken by UK workers can serve as a benchmark. As of recent data, the average is around 4-6 days per year. Employers should be understanding of genuine illness but can have procedures in place for frequent absences.

              What are the trigger points for sickness absence?

              Trigger points for sickness absence are typically set by individual employers in the UK. Common triggers might include:

              • A certain number of absences in a rolling period (e.g., 3 instances in 6 months).
              • A specific number of consecutive days absent (e.g., more than 10 consecutive days).
              • Patterns of absence, such as frequent Monday or Friday absences.

              Does an employee have to give a reason for sickness?

              In the UK, if an employee is sick and off work for seven days or less, they can self-certify their absence. If they’re off work for more than seven days, they’ll likely need to provide a ‘fit note’ from a doctor.

              While employees should inform their employer of the reason for their sickness, they don’t necessarily have to provide in-depth medical details.

              What should I ask an employee in a sickness absence meeting?

              During a sickness absence meeting in the UK, consider asking:

              • How are you feeling now?
              • Is there any support or adjustment you might need upon your return?
              • Are there any underlying issues or concerns we should be aware of?
              • Is this absence related to a previously disclosed condition or illness?
              • How can we assist in ensuring a smooth transition back to work?

              What is the biggest cause of sickness absence in the UK?

              Historically, minor illnesses like coughs and colds have been the most common cause of short-term sickness absence. However, in recent years, mental health issues, including stress, depression, and anxiety, have become significant contributors to both short-term and long-term absences.

              What is the average sickness absence in the UK?

              The average sickness absence rate in the UK, as of recent data, is around 4-6 days per employee per year.

              Key Takeaways

              1. Sickness absence management is crucial for businesses, with 1 in 4 employers in Scotland seeing an increase in sick leaves.
              2. The foundation of sickness absence management is not just counting days but understanding the reasons behind absences.
              3. Companies should have a clear attendance policy and ensure it is communicated and enforced consistently.
              4. Managers should review attendance records before discussing absences with employees.
              5. Return-to-work interviews are valuable tools for understanding and reducing absenteeism.
              6. HR consultants can provide guidance on disciplinary actions and ensure compliance with employment laws.
              7. Training sessions can raise awareness about the importance of good attendance.
              8. Flexibility in work schedules can reduce absenteeism.
              9. Both short-term and long-term absences have their challenges and require different management approaches.
              10. A well-structured sickness absence policy ensures consistency and clarity for both employees and employers.
              11. In the UK, there isn’t a fixed “acceptable” number of sickness days, but the average is around 4-6 days per year.
              12. Mental health issues have become significant contributors to both short-term and long-term absences in the UK.
              13. A proactive and empathetic approach to sickness absence management can ensure both productivity and employee satisfaction.

              Sickness absence management is a delicate balance. It requires businesses to balance their operational needs with the well-being of their employees.

              By adopting a proactive and empathetic approach, companies can create a supportive work environment, ensuring both productivity and employee satisfaction.

              Don’t have a sickness absence management procedure? Our HR consultants can provide you with further information on how to develop this within your business and reduce absences in the workplace. As well as, ensuring businesses aren’t leaving themselves liable for tribunal claims by following incorrect procedures.

              How to Manage Generational Differences in the Workplace

              The Need to Understand Generational Differences

              Generational differences in the workplace refer to the varying beliefs, values, and attitudes between age groups. These differences arise from the experiences people had while growing up, which shape their perspectives on work ethic, communication, and technology for example, Gen-Z does not remember a world without the internet and smartphones.  

              With four generations currently in the workplace, it’s essential to understand and embrace these differences to ensure a positive working environment. How your business can understand generation differences;

              • Enhanced communication with a greater understanding of each generation. With potentially four different generations in the workplace, each has its own communication style. By having a strong understanding, companies will have clearer communications reducing misunderstandings and conflicts.
              • Better collaboration by recognising the different generations’ strengths and preferences helps teams work cohesively together. Stronger collaboration may create innovative solutions and a positive working culture.
              • Effective management through a better understanding of generational differences as a manager can tailor their responses and leadership styles to motivate and engage with their teams to boost morale and productivity.
              • Stronger insights to consumers by having a diverse workforce as you will be able to take learnings from employee behaviours and pick their brains to design products and services to target specific generations. This is especially helpful when creating marketing strategies.

              The UK workforce is aging the average age in the UK as of 2021 is 40.4 compared to 37.9 in 2021 (Statista). Furthermore, we are seeing fewer people entering the UK economy as birth rates have been decreasing. Having a strong understanding of all generations and their needs will be beneficial in recruiting and retaining the new generation of employees.

              Different Generations in the Workplace

              • Baby Boomers (1946-1964): Making up approximately 25% of the UK workforce, they are motivated by company loyalty, duty, and teamwork. They prefer communication methods like phone calls and face-to-face interactions. Working within leadership roles due to their experience.
              • Generation X (1965-1980): At 33% of the UK workforce, they prioritize diversity, work-life balance, and personal interests. They prefer phone or in-person communication. Balancing family, career, and looking toward retirement.
              • Millennials (1981-1996): Tech-savvy, value work-life balance, and are currently the largest workforce segment. Comprising 35% of the UK workforce, they seek responsibility, quality management, and unique work experiences. They lean towards instant messaging, texts, and emails.
              • Generation Z (1997-2012): The youngest group at 5% of the UK workforce, they value personalisation, diversity, and creativity. They prefer instant messaging, texts, and social media for communication. Gen-Z, being digital natives, are entering the workforce with a fresh perspective on the world of work.

              Representing 2% of the UK workforce and decreasing, are traditionalists born between 1925 and 1945, some are still currently in work but very low numbers. They typically value respect, long-term value, and recognition.

              How employee benefits vary for different generations

              What each generation values varies, making it difficult to get employee benefits right, but here are some guidelines for what each generation look for in employment benefits;

              Baby boomers look for health benefits as they are getting older alongside the companies retirement package and if they get recognition for their hard work. Baby boomers are the sandwich generation who are caring for both children and aging parents so flexible working hours is a key benefit for them.

              Generation X employees are within their prime earning years for saving and supporting their families so typically look for a competitive salary and opportunities for professional development. Similarly, to baby boomers, Gen – X sees flexible working hours as a fantastic benefit, especially with having a family.

              Millennials like to have a sense of purpose in their work and value a strong work-life balance. If a company has a wellness program in place for mental health support and gym memberships is a strong benefit for many millennials. They like to be continually learning to enhance their career. Flexible working hours and remote working is a key to retaining millennials.

              Gen-Z the youngest generation in the workforce sees financial incentives and career advancements as clear employee benefits. Working within a diverse and inclusive workforce is key for them. Having the opportunity to use the latest technology and platforms as they are digital natives.

              Individual preferences will vary widely within each generation. The best approach is to offer a wide variety of benefits and regularly check in with employees for feedback to fully understand their needs for employee retention. Employers shouldn’t stereotype when it comes to older and younger employees.

              Stereotyping of Generational Differences

              Stereotypes often arise for generations based on their shared experiences, values, and attitudes. While some of the stereotypes may have a grain of truth, not all individuals are the same. Employers and managers should be treating individuals on a case-by-case basis.

              Stereotyping can lead to misconceptions, such as older generations viewing younger workers as lazy and entitled, while younger generations might see older workers as outdated. To bridge this gap, team-building exercises and training can be implemented.

              • Gen-Z is perceived to have short attention spans, rely on social media, and desire to have instant gratification. Gen-Z employees may be overlooked for tasks that require deep concentration and long-term commitment. They may also be deemed as superficial and lacking depth. Facing challenges in creating meaningful relationships at work.
              • Millennials may be described as entitled and narcissistic as well as being reliant on technology for everything. They seek to complete meaningful work and have a strong social responsibility. Older generations may find them too demanding and have unrealistic expectations. Potentially struggle with being taken seriously in the workplace.
              • Gen-x are deemed to have a strong sense of independence with a cynical and sceptical outlook on life. Strong value for work-life balance. The impacts are potentially being misunderstood as disengaged and disinterested in their work, alongside not being committed to their job roles or the company.
              • Baby boomers are seen to resist change and technology updates, having a strong sense of loyalty to one company and preference is generally face-to-face. Employers may feel this generation doesn’t want to learn new technology skills leading them to be overlooked. Perceived as being out of touch and lacking adaptability, causing employers to undervalue this generation.

              Impact of Stereotyping in the Workplace

              Misunderstandings due to generational differences can lead to friction, resentment, and decreased productivity. It’s crucial to understand and respect each generation’s preferences and motivations to build trust and harmony.

              There may be limited collaboration as stereotyping may cause divides within the workplace within different age groups, thus less collaboration occurring. This impacts how the company performs from less innovation and productivity.

              Talented employees may be overlooked for certain roles or tasks simply based on their generation stereotypes, causing the wrong person to be promoted. Furthermore, this may impact the company’s performance and retention of talented employees increasing recruitment costs.

              Employees who feel they are being stereotyped by their generation’s characteristics will feel misunderstood leading to resentment growing and job satisfaction decreasing.

              Examples of stereotyping in the workplace

              1. A baby boomer may not be asked to be involved in a project involving new technology as its perceived they won’t understand new technology. Or it would be difficult to train them on the platform or equipment.
              2. Millennials within the workforce may be tasked with social media responsibilities due to the assumption they are good at it, where in fact the person does use social media much.

              Stereotyping can lead to missed opportunities, misunderstanding, and a less inclusive workplace. Employers and managers must treat each employee individually and not have any assumptions relating to generational differences. Keeping an open mind for all employees.

              Benefits of Generational Differences in the Workplace

              Generational differences in the workplace, when managed effectively, can offer numerous benefits to companies. These benefits include diverse perspectives, skills, and experiences that each generation brings. A multi-generational workforce brings advantages such as:

              Diverse perspectives: Different generations bring varied viewpoints, ideas, and solutions to the table, helping to meet client/customer needs. This diversity of thought can lead to more innovative problem-solving and decision-making.

              Knowledge sharing: Older employees often possess institutional knowledge and experience that can be invaluable to younger colleagues. Alternatively, younger employees can introduce newer techniques, technologies, and trends to their older co-workers. Which normally are quick methods that decrease time spent on particular tasks. This can also be advantageous for promoting a culture of continuous learning, and assisting with personal and professional development.

              Broader skill set: Each generation has its unique set of skills. For instance, while Baby Boomers might have strong interpersonal skills and industry knowledge, Millennials and Gen Z might bring digital and technological expertise. However, be careful to not stereotype and be seen to be ageist.

              Enhanced Customer Understanding: A multi-generational workforce can better relate to and understand a diverse customer base, leading to improved customer service and satisfaction. For example, a Baby Boomer might not understand how to market to Gen-Z, and vice versa. 

              Flexibility and adaptability: With exposure to different working styles and approaches, a multi-generational team can be more adaptable to change and more flexible in its operations.

              Mentoring opportunities: Cross-generational mentoring can be beneficial for both parties. Younger employees can gain insights and guidance from their more experienced colleagues, while older employees can stay updated with trends and technologies.

              Balanced approach: While younger generations might be more risk-taking and eager to try new things, older generations might bring a more analytical approach. This balance can lead to well-rounded strategies and decisions.

              Cultural Richness: Different generations often have varied cultural references, values, and experiences. This can lead to a richer company culture, fostering mutual respect and understanding, and making the company a more inclusive working environment.

              Talent attraction and retention: companies that value and promote generational diversity can attract a broader talent pool. It also sends a positive message about the company’s commitment to inclusivity.

              Generational differences in the workplace, when embraced and managed effectively, can be a significant asset. It allows companies to leverage the strengths of each generation, leading to a more productive, innovative, and positive working environment.

              Managing Generational Differences

              Managing generational differences in the workplace is required for helping to create a positive and productive environment. Each generation brings its unique perspectives, values, and strengths. By recognizing and valuing these differences, companies can create a more inclusive and effective workplace.

              Strategies for managing generational differences

              Education and Awareness

              Conduct workshops and training sessions to educate employees about different generational characteristics, values, and preferences. This can be part of onboarding training and the workshop should promote understanding and remove stereotypes relating to each generation.

              Encourage cross-generational mentoring

              Having the younger generation working with an experienced employee helps with mutual learning i.e. Gen-Z and baby boomers. This allows for knowledge transfer, skill sharing, and a better understanding of different generational perspectives.

              Flexible work policies

              Recognise that employees from different generations may have varying needs and preferences when it comes to work hours, remote work, and work-life balance. Flexible working arrangements have become an essential employee benefit, implementing a flexible work policy helps to cater to the diverse needs of today’s workforce.

              Communication Methods

              Understand that different generations may have different communication preferences (e.g., face-to-face, email, instant messaging). Encouraging using a range of communication methods within the workplace to meet everyone needs and preferences.

              Recognise and value diversity

              Celebrate the diverse skills, experiences, and perspectives that each generation brings. Try where possible to not pigeonhole individuals based on generational stereotypes. As mentioned above not all millennials are fully equipped with social media skills and understanding.

              Provide opportunities for growth and development

              This includes offering training and development opportunities that cater to the needs and preferences of different generations. For instance, while some may prefer traditional classroom training, others might opt for online courses or webinars. The new generation entering the market has grown up with YouTube and millennials may utilise podcasts for their learning.

              Inclusive Leadership

              Employers and line managers should be trained to recognise and value generational differences. Both should promote a culture of inclusivity, where all voices are heard and valued.

              Feedback systems

              Implement regular feedback mechanisms to understand the needs, concerns, and suggestions of employees from different generations. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one discussions. Asking for feedback during employee appraisals will be helpful in gathering an understanding.

              Team building activities

              Organise team-building activities that encourage collaboration and understanding among employees of different age groups. This can help break down barriers and bring a sense of unity to the team.

              Benefits and rewards

              Recognise that employees from different generations may value different types of rewards and benefits. For instance, while older employees might prioritise health benefits, younger ones might value opportunities for travel or further education. Most generations seek some form of flexible working, whether this is hybrid working or flexible hours.

              Promote a culture of respect

              Encourage employees to respect and value the contributions of their colleagues, regardless of age. This can be reinforced through company values, policies, and leadership behaviour.

              Managing generational differences is not about catering to one group over another. Instead, it’s about recognising the unique strengths and needs of each generation to create a workplace environment where everyone feels valued and included. By doing so, companies can harness the collective strengths of their diverse workforce driving innovation and growth.

              How using AI in recruitment makes an impact: ChatGPT


              • How using AI in recruitment makes an impact: ChatGPT
              • What is CV Fraud?
              • AI in Recruitment and CV Fraud.
              • How to identify ChatGPT created CVs: Tips for Employers.

              The integration of AI in recruitment is becoming more and more prevalent in 2023, especially with the launch of ChatGPT.  ChatGPT was developed by OpenAI which has unparalleled capabilities, generating human-like text and has revolutionised how we interact with technology.  

              ChatGPT isn’t only used for simple interactions, we have seen an increasing number of candidates utilising AI tools to create CVs. Noting that some CVs for the same job role are very similar in style and wording.

              AI in recruitment showcases how candidates can enhance their personal branding, bringing a significant challenge for employers and HR. Whilst probationary periods are in place to assess employee capabilities, employers must take all necessary actions prior to hiring the candidate.

              In addition to the already time-consuming hiring process, employers and HR consultants now face the challenge of distinguishing genuine talent from a slew of AI-enhanced applications.

              If using AI in recruitment, especially for enhancing their CV, can this be defined as CV fraud by the candidate?

              What is CV Fraud?

              In a competitive job market, candidates feel they need to stand out more leading to exaggeration and lies on their CVs. A trend we have been seeing over the last couple of years is CV fraud and we feel this may accelerate as AI tools develop becoming more intelligent and human-like.

              CV fraud is defined as the act of embellishing or falsifying details on their curriculum vitae (CV), making their CV appear to outstand compared to other candidates. Candidates may lie about their qualifications.  The exaggerations may range from their job responsibilities to the length and depth of experience for example, they may have gotten training but never used it in practice. Furthermore, people may also fabricate entire job roles or academic achievements.

              It may seem harmless to exaggerate on a CV, however, there can be significant impacts on employers and undermine the integrity of the recruitment process.

              AI in Recruitment and CV Fraud

              The amalgamation of AI in recruitment adds another layer of complexity to CV fraud. AI tools such as ChatGPT, with their advanced capabilities and plug-ins, allow for crafting CVs that sound extremely impressive and tailored specifically to job descriptions. The AI tool will create a CV that outlines both essential and desirable criteria. Whilst it may sound/read authentically, its entirely fictional or enhanced.

              An example is that a candidate’s skills are entry-level, but they use ChatGPT to make their experience look mid-senior level. The candidate is possibly wanting higher status or salary. Employers must differentiate between genuine talent and AI-produced experience.

              AI is simple for anyone to use, allowing those with limited IT experience to develop CVs rivalling those of true professionals.

              The revolution of AI in recruitment is only beginning, blurring the line further for employers identifying true talent within CVs, furthermore, could there also be an issue of ethical practices with AI in recruitment.

              How to identify ChatGPT created CVs: Tips for employers

              As the use of AI in recruitment increases, employers must be able to differentiate between AI and genuine CVs ensuring they are recruiting the right workforce. Ways to identify AI-generated CVs;

              Unrealistic achievements

              One of the biggest signs of AI-generated CVs is the listing achievements, consider if they seem overly ambitious or don’t sync with the candidate’s experience level. Are they a recent graduate claiming to have led multi-million-dollar projects or boasting of work experience reserved for senior professionals with 10 + years in the business? This is a red flag for employers.

              Employers may feel they need to ask for evidence of the experience to clarify any concerns, background, and additional screening may be necessary prior to interviewing the candidate.

              Irregularities in language and tone

              AI-generated content is extremely impressive, however, it may lack the personal side of human writing making it less relatable, especially in CV writing. If you feel the CV is AI-generated look out for phrases or terminologies that don’t align with the candidate’s overall profile. Take into consideration if the CV fluctuates from industry-specific jargon to basic language. Watch out for any industry terms used incorrectly.

              Utilise references

              Thorough reference checks should be carried out before issuing thecontract of employment, this gives the employers valuable insights especially if you go beyond the standard questions. Employers should be asking specific questions about the candidate’s previous responsibilities, roles, and achievements. By asking these types of questions, employers are able to gauge the authenticity of the information provided by the employee.

              Any queries on discrepancies employers have between the CV and references, notes should be taken and all queries clarified with the candidate.

              Technical assessments and Interviews

              If you have any concerns about the candidate’s CV and claims made within it, practical assessments can play a key role in confirming the candidate’s claims. Employers can set practical tests, task simulations, or presentations around a specific task related to the role.

              Furthermore, using behavioural interview techniques focusing on previous experiences and results helps with understanding a candidate’s actual capabilities for the job role, rather than AI-generated CV/experience.

              By implementing these strategies, employers can better navigate the challenges posed by candidates using AI in recruitment. These steps will help to make informed recruitment decisions.

              How an HR Consultancy can assist with AI in recruitment

              An outsourced HR consultancy will play a vital role in ensuring businesses hire genuine talent for their business. As the landscape of recruitment evolves as AI in recruitment continues to become more prevalent, having external advice from an HR consultancy will assist with hiring genuine talent. Their expertise and resources can be invaluable in navigating the challenges posed by AI-enhanced CVs.

              Expertise in Spotting Red Flags

              HR professionals, with their extensive experience in recruitment, possess a keen eye for spotting inconsistencies in CVs. Whether it’s an achievement that doesn’t align with a candidate’s career trajectory or a skill that seems out of place, their trained instincts can quickly identify potential red flags.

              Personalised Interview Techniques

              One of the most effective ways to test the authenticity of a CV is through a well-crafted interview. As part of our recruitment service, we will design interview questions specifically tailored to probe deeper into claims made in a CV. Further to this, they will help you gain a clear understanding if the candidate meets the essential criteria to be successful in the job role.

              By asking candidates to elaborate on specific achievements or describe particular experiences in detail, interviewers can gauge the authenticity of their claims.

              Additionally, role-play or situational interviews offer a practical way to assess a candidate’s genuine experience. These techniques force candidates to think on their feet and demonstrate their skills in real time, making it challenging for those who have embellished their CVs to succeed.

              Training Hiring Managers

              The challenges posed by AI in recruitment are ever-evolving, and staying updated is crucial. HR consultancies can offer workshops and training sessions to hiring managers, focusing on the latest recruitment challenges, including the rise of AI-generated CVs.

              By providing hiring managers with the knowledge and tools to identify AI-enhanced applications, businesses will be able to make more informed and accurate hiring decisions.

              By partnering with BeyondHR for recruitment, businesses can navigate the complexities of modern recruitment with confidence, ensuring they hire qualified candidates.

              Check out these resources

              The recruitment process: 11 steps for the recruitment process

              Right-to-work checks updates

              Exit interviews

              Navigating out of a toxic workplace culture as a manager

              Navigating out of a toxic workplace culture as a manager.

              • How are toxic workplaces created?
              • Disadvantages of a Toxic Workplace Culture.
              • Identifying Signs of a Toxic Workplace Culture.
              • Steps to Navigate Out of a Toxic Workplace Culture as a Manager.
              • Examples of toxic workplace culture.

              Every organisation dreams of a workplace where synergy flows, collaboration reigns, and success is a team effort. Yet, the stark reality many encounters is far from this ideal: a toxic workplace culture. This detrimental environment, marked by negativity, distrust, and high stress, is harmful not just to employees but to the overall success of the business.  

              Recognising and addressing the issue is crucial to ensuring the longevity of the business.

              From losing top talent, impacting brand reputation, and leading to legal implications businesses need to navigate out of a toxic workplace culture.

              We have seen a lot about working in a toxic workplace culture across social media and media channels, in recent years changes have led to employees wanting a better work-life balance. Working in a toxic workplace may result in poor work-life balance leading to employees opting to look at a new company.

              How are toxic workplaces created?

              Toxic workplace cultures are presumed to be created by managers with weak leadership skills and lacking credibility, potentially due to a lack of training and/or experience. A manager/employee deemed as negative or toxic may spread this throughout the workforce, impacting the overall team. Potentially causing other employees to take more sick leave with increased stress levels.

              Furthermore, these types of managers thrive with power and wanting to keep their seniority, they may use others to deflect from their failures in work performance.

              Disadvantages of a Toxic Workplace Culture

              A toxic workplace culture is more than just a challenging environment; it’s a breeding ground for multiple business pitfalls.  

              Low Employee Morale

              When working in a toxic workplace for a prolonged period, may harm an individual’s mental health. This may present itself as symptoms of anxiety, depression, and some employees’ burnout.

              Employers will see as enthusiasm wanes so do employees’ drive to excel and provide results for the business. This is due to employees often doing the bare minimum, employers may feel this is out of laziness but within a toxic work environment, this will be out of diminished morale.

              A toxic workplace culture drains employees emotionally leading to emotional exhaustion for employees. Employees will be physically there, however mentally and emotionally they are disengaged from the workplace.

              Decreased Productivity:

              In a toxic environment, employees are less likely to be creative and innovative, as employees are afraid to share opinions for fear of backlash or being ridiculed by others in the business. This may stem from senior management.

              Inefficiencies within a business including if it’s lacking in trust and communication is limited, may lead and inefficiencies as employees might not share resources, information, or collaborate effectively. You may also see employees being distracted by gossiping and/or conflict with other employees, taking them away from their main responsibilities as they deal with other matters.

              Increased Employee Turnover

              Recruitment is expensive for businesses, constantly needing to hire and train new employees leads to high costs. Reducing available revenue for training and development of existing employees. Recruitment campaigns may be expensive due to advertising roles, interviewing, onboarding, and training. These costs aren’t just financial, but time resources adding more pressure on other employees to fit in shortlisting and interviewing.

              Loss of business and client knowledge as when long-standing employees leave, they take with them years of knowledge and expertise, leaving a gap that’s hard to fill. Furthermore, the employee may have created strong working relationships with clients, leading to a breakdown in client relationships.

              High turnover rates can create an environment of instability. New employees may feel insecure or uncertain about their future in the company, perpetuating the cycle.

              Poor brand reputation

              It may be difficult in attracting top talent, especially in niche industries or within smaller locations such as Northern Ireland or Glasgow City due to word of mouth. If a business has a reputation for a toxic workplace culture, this impacts gaining business partnerships.

              Word of mouth can have extreme impacts on brand reputation, especially in specific industries where information can spread fast and impact the brand’s reputation. A reputation for a toxic culture can deter high-calibre candidates from even applying.

              Clients and business partners may become concerned with high employee turnover especially if internal issues are publicised. Clients and partners may begin to ask questions regarding the management of their accounts and query the stability/values of the company.

              Business partners may opt out of the partnership, due to concerns it will impact their brand reputation also.

              In the age of online reviews and platforms like Glassdoor, disgruntled employees can share their experiences, impacting how the public perceives the company.

              Legal implications

              Incidents of discrimination, workplace harassment, or unfair treatment may result in legal implications against the business. If an employee feels mistreated by the business, may lead to a grievance and a tribunal claim. Tribunal claims may be expensive and time-consuming for businesses, as well as having a negative impact on reputation. As outcomes are frequently available online and only take a quick Google search.

              Regulatory scrutiny with constant legal issues can put the company on the radar of regulatory bodies, leading to investigations or additional oversight. Furthermore, the business may lose their licenses. This will be depending on the industry, a toxic culture that leads to legal issues can risk the company’s operational licenses.

              A toxic workplace culture, thus, isn’t merely an internal problem. Its ripple effects can spread far and wide, impacting almost every facet of the organisation. Addressing it isn’t just a matter of employee well-being (as crucial as that is) but also a critical business strategy.

              Identifying Signs of a Toxic Workplace Culture

              Awareness is the first step. Look out for:

              1. Frequent Conflicts and Arguments: Persistent disagreements signal deeper cultural issues.

              2. Lack of Communication: When there’s more whispering than open conversation, there’s a problem.

              3. High-Stress Levels: Burnt-out employees and high absenteeism can indicate a toxic environment.

              4. No Work-Life Balance: Expecting employees to be “always-on” can lead to rapid burnout.

              5. Discrimination or Harassment: Any form of prejudice is a definite red flag.

              Steps to Navigate Out of a Toxic Workplace Culture as a Manager

              Addressing the issue head-on

              Prior to taking action, you must identify the real issues by recognising the symptoms. You may think about carrying out confidential surveys, one-to-one conversations, and studying team dynamics.

              Businesses need to admit the problem, acceptance of a toxic workplace culture is crucial to navigating out of the culture. You should not downplay or ignore issues as this will further alienate employees impacting trust.

              For you to have a clear understanding of the root issues and causes, gather feedback from employees. This can be in the form of suggestion boxes, meetings, or feedback sessions.

              Open communication

              Check in with employees individually or within teams, gather an understanding of their workloads, and concerns, and discuss any problems they are facing. Create an environment with an open-door policy, ensuring employees are aware they can come to you with issues or concerns without repercussions. 

              Keep employees in the loop after gathering feedback, showing the steps the business is taking to address concerns raised. Employees will feel more valuable, as their voice is being heard and actions happening.

              Employee well-being initiatives

              Your business will see the benefits of offering mental health support, this may be counselling services, stress management, or mindfulness training. Furthermore, bringing in experts to conduct mental health workshops.

              Understanding and recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach may not work within your business. Consider having flexible working options such as remote work, or flexibility in hours may be helpful employee well-being initiatives.

              Training and development

              Conflict resolution training is essential in equipping both managers and teams with the necessary skills to address and resolve disputes in a manner that is both amicable and constructive. Similarly, diversity and inclusion training is paramount in ensuring that every member of the organisation comprehends the significance of fostering a diverse workplace.

              This training not only highlights the benefits of varied perspectives but also teaches individuals how to maintain an atmosphere of respect and inclusivity. In tandem with these trainings, leadership development plays a pivotal role.

              By focusing on aspects such as empathy, active listening, and effective management strategies, this program aims to mold potential leaders in the organization, ensuring they are well-prepared to guide their teams to success.

              Seeking external help

              Hiring an HR consultant can be an invaluable step for many organisations. An external HR consultant brings to the table a fresh perspective on deep-seated problems, offering tailored solutions and even conducting workshops to tackle specific challenges.

               For instances where conflicts escalate to severe levels, mediation becomes a practical approach. By introducing a neutral third-party mediator, disputes can be resolved and frayed relationships can be restored. We have a mediation service, get in contact for how we can support this.

              Additionally, to maintain the pulse of an organisation’s health and trajectory, it’s beneficial to engage in regular audits. By employing third-party firms for these audits, companies can unearth persistent issues and garner reassurance that they are navigating the right path.

              Examples of toxic workplace culture

              A toxic workplace culture can manifest in various ways, depending on the organisation and the people involved. Here are some examples to help illustrate the concept:

              1. Power and control dynamics:

              Micromanagement: Managers or supervisors constantly scrutinize and control even the minutest aspects of an employee’s work, causing feelings of distrust and suffocation.

              Dictatorial leadership: Decisions are always top-down with no room for input from subordinates. Employees feel they have no voice or input to decisions within their work.

              2. Poor communication:

              Silos: Departments or teams hoard information and don’t collaborate with each other, leading to inefficiencies.

              Ambiguous expectations: Employees are unclear about what’s expected of them, leading to confusion and mistakes.

              3. Discrimination and favouritism:

              Cliques and favouritism: Some employees receive preferential treatment based on personal relationships rather than merit, causing resentment among others.

              Racial, gender, or age-based discrimination: Certain groups are treated unfairly or denied opportunities based on their race, gender, age, or other discriminatory factors.

              4. Blame culture:

              Avoiding responsibility: Mistakes are always someone else’s fault. Employees are quick to point fingers rather than collaborate on solutions.

              Public shaming: When errors occur, they’re highlighted publicly, causing humiliation and fear.

              5. Inadequate recognition and reward:

              Unacknowledged efforts: Employees’ hard work and overtime go unnoticed, leading to feelings of being undervalued. Feel overtime is just expected to look good.

              Wage inequality: Similar roles in the company have large pay disparities without clear reasons.

              6. Unhealthy competition:

              Sabotage: Employees undermine each other’s work or spread rumours to get ahead on the corporate ladder.

              Stealing credit: Individuals take credit for team efforts or another colleague’s work.

              7. Excessive workloads and burnout:

              Always-on Culture: Employees are expected to be available round-the-clock, leading to burnout. Working late nights and “needing to” keep in touch when on holiday.

              Unrealistic Expectations: Workloads keep increasing without corresponding increases in resources or time.

              8. Harassment and bullying:

              Sexual harassment: Unwanted advances, comments, or behaviours of a sexual nature.

              Workplace bullying: Constant belittling, threats, or other forms of intimidation that create a hostile work environment.

              9. Lack of growth opportunities:

              Stagnation: Employees feel they’re stuck in their roles with no room for advancement or professional development.

              Biased Promotions: Promotions aren’t based on merit but on favouritism or other non-work-related criteria.

              10. Ignoring employee feedback:

              Dismissive attitudes: Employee concerns and feedback are brushed off or outright ignored.

              Retaliation: Employees who speak out about problems face negative consequences, discouraging others from voicing concerns.

              There can be many more manifestations of a toxic work environment and the key is to recognise these signs early on and take steps to address and rectify them.

              In essence, a toxic workplace culture is not just a HR concern; it’s a business one.

              As a manager, the onus lies with you to steer your ship away from this storm. It might take time and effort, but the rewards of a happy, motivated team and a thriving organization are worth it. Embrace change, lead with empathy, and champion a culture where everyone thrives. We are here to help you through this challenging and often complex area.

              Flexible Working Bill 2023: What you need to know.

              The flexible working bill has come around following the pandemic and people’s viewpoints changing about work-life balance, pushing businesses to adapt from the traditional 9-5 Monday to Friday in the office.

              Flexible working requests are increasingly becoming a significant talking point among employers and employees alike. Flexible working arrangements are helping businesses win during the war for talented employees.

              On the 20th July 2023, a new piece of legislation passed through royal assent – The Employment Relation (Flexible Working) Bill 2023.

              The new law, set to be in force in the next year, will revolutionise flexible working provisions in England, Wales, and Scotland, presenting a fresh set of opportunities and challenges for businesses. As the Northern Ireland government is not currently sitting in Stormont, the gaps between Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s employment laws continue to widen. 

              But what does this mean for employers and employees in practice?

              Expanding the Definition of Flexible Working

              Previously, most businesses understood the concept of flexible working as a change to working hours, times, or locations. However, the new Flexible Working Bill explicitly allows such requests, firmly codifying this into law. This move undoubtedly broadens the scope for employees seeking a balance between their personal lives and their careers.

              Increasing the number of applications

              Under the new legislation, employees will have the opportunity to make two applications for flexible working in any 12-month period. This increase from the current single-application policy offers more room for employees to adapt their working conditions to their ever-changing life circumstances.

              Simplifying the application process

              The Flexible Working Bill also simplifies the application process for employees. They will no longer need to explain the effects of their proposed changes nor the potential impact on their roles. The decision-making process is now more straightforward, focusing more on whether the requested changes are viable rather than on an employee’s justifications.

              Prioritising dialogue between employees and employers

              A significant amendment in the flexible working Bill ensures that an application for flexible working cannot be refused without consultation with the employee. This provision highlights the importance of open dialogue and cooperation between employees and employers, enhancing mutual understanding and promoting a more inclusive workplace.

              Speeding up the decision-making process

              With the Flexible Working Bill, the timeframe for decisions on flexible working requests has been shortened from three months to two. This change will speed up the process, reducing uncertainty for employees and allowing businesses to adapt more swiftly to new working arrangements.

              Extending eligibility and ACAS consultations

              While it was expected that the right to flexible working would become a day-one right, the current stipulation that employees must have 26 weeks’ service to be eligible still applies. However, the government has indicated that this change will be introduced through separate, secondary legislation, although a specific date has yet to be set.

              Meanwhile, ACAS, (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), has launched a consultation on updates to its Code of Practice on handling flexible working requests. This move aims to equip employers, employees, and representatives with practical advice on applying the new rules. Although not legally binding, these guidelines will be taken into account by courts and employment tribunals when relevant.

              Future of Flexible working

              The Flexible Working Bill marks a significant step forward in embracing the changing dynamics of the workplace. It not only reflects societal shifts but also aims to create more inclusive, accommodating, and adaptive work environments.

              However, these changes come with their own challenges, especially for businesses. Employers need to be prepared to handle an increased number of flexible working requests and to ensure that these changes don’t disrupt their operations. Open communication, efficient decision-making, and a proactive approach to implementation will be key to successfully navigating this new landscape.

              As the working world continues to adapt to the reality of flexible working, the question is no longer if it will become the norm, but when and how it will effectively be integrated into our working lives. Stay tuned for more updates on the Flexible Working Bill and its impact on the future of work.

              Benefits and drawbacks of flexible working

              As the UK workforce continues to evolve and modernise, the Flexible Working Bill has introduced sweeping changes designed to accommodate the growing need for more adaptable work arrangements. Remember, this bill will not come into effect for another year and only in England, Scotland, and Wales. We await to hear further news for Northern Ireland once the government returns to Stormont.

              The flexibility offered by the Bill comes with both considerable benefits and potential drawbacks for both employers and employees.

              Benefits of Flexible Working under the Flexible Working Bill

              Increased Employee Satisfaction

              Flexible working conditions can dramatically improve employee satisfaction. By allowing workers to tailor their schedules around their personal lives, they can achieve a healthier work-life balance, leading to greater job satisfaction and reduced stress levels.

              Improved Productivity

              Numerous studies suggest that employees working under flexible conditions often have higher productivity levels. This improvement can be attributed to reduced distractions, lower commuting times, and the ability to work during their most productive hours.

              Greater Talent Attraction and Retention

              The Flexible Working Bill may make companies more attractive to potential employees. For many, the ability to work flexibly can be as appealing, if not more so, than salary. This advantage can help businesses attract top talent and improving retention of employees, as satisfied employees are more likely to stay.

              Reduction in Costs

              Flexible working can lead to reduced overheads. If employees are working remotely or on varied schedules, businesses may spend less on office space, utilities, and other related expenses.

              Drawbacks of Flexible Working under the Flexible Working Bill

              Difficulties in Coordination and Communication

              While the Flexible Working Bill offers increased flexibility, it may also present challenges in coordination and communication. If employees work different hours or from different locations, arranging meetings or collaborative work might become more complex.

              Potential Impact on Company Culture

              Creating a strong company culture when employees are working remotely or on different schedules can be challenging. Building rapport among team members may be more difficult when face-to-face interaction is limited.

              Increased Demand for IT Support

              Flexible working often relies heavily on technology. This reliance can put a strain on IT support teams, as they have to deal with a greater range of issues, from connectivity problems to cybersecurity risks.

              Management Challenges

              For managers, overseeing a team with varied work schedules or remote working conditions can be challenging. They may need to adapt their management styles to effectively monitor performance and maintain productivity.

              As we continue to navigate the new world of work, understanding the advantages and potential challenges of flexible working becomes increasingly crucial. It is an opportunity for businesses to adapt and thrive amidst changing work patterns, but it also requires a considered approach to avoid potential pitfalls.

              With careful planning and implementation, the benefits of flexible working can far outweigh the drawbacks, leading to a more satisfied, productive workforce and a business that is adaptable to future changes in the working environment.